Woo-Hoo! NECA has just announced a collaboration with 20th Century Fox to put out a limited set of figures celebrating classic guest stars on Fox's "The Simpsons," with Tom Hanks, Kid Rock, Hal Hefner, Yao Ming and James Brown in the first wave of 25 projected figures available in 2014. They will have my money if the Brown figure goes, "This bandstand wasn't double-bolted! Huh!"
But which guest-stars will make up the remaining figures in this line?
Now, what's of note is that these are guest stars playing themselves, as opposed to voicing original characters. This is a gray and complicated area that demands deep thought, maybe.
I'm going out on a limb and saying that Mel Gibson won't get a figure, despite hanging extensively with Homer back in the day. I am further uncertain as to whether this precludes Johnny Cash as the voice of the spirit-coyote Homer saw after eating Guatemalan insanity peppers, or John Waters as the very John Waters-esque John the kitsch-shop owner. And what about David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as their "X-Files" characters? And then there's the entire issue of Michael Jackson as "Michael Jackson."
At this point, I'm very confused.
Well, look: Here's a wish-list for some of our favorites, with appropriate outfits/accessories. Ah, memories:
Barry White: With some snakes fleeing Whacking Day. Oooh yeeaaah:
The Lineup to Mr. Burns' Softball Team: But only if we get the players in their mangled states, including Ken Griffey's grotesquely swollen jaw and Roger Clemens' chicken-style. Admittedly, I don't follow sports, so I have no idea how many of these players have since been horribly tarnished by scandal.
Johnny Carson: And let's make sure he has an automobile to juggle while singing opera.
Mark Hamill: In the realm of action figures, you can't really turn down a SF tie-in. Let's get him in "Luke, Be a Jedi Tonight!" attire.
Tito Puente with his Mr. Burns Song: Adios Viejo!
On That Note, The Ramones to serenade Burns: "Go to hell, you old bastard!"
The Robotic Richard Simmons: OK, this wasn't Simmons voicing...um, himself, but why has there never been a figure of this greatness?
Spinal Tap: Yes, these were technically fictional characters already, but given Harry Shearer's many voices to the Simpsons over the years, it's the closest he's gotten to play himself on the show.
Leonard Nimoy: Another strong SF tie-in, from his saving Krusty from jumping off the Springfield Monorail ("The world needs laughter!") to narrating the tale of Homer's alien encounter.
Mickey Rooney as Fallout Boy: The number-one box office draw from 1939 to 1940 would be perfect as Milhouse's cinematic substitute.
Reclusive Author Thomas Pynchon with bag over his head: This would make a perennial gift from English majors to the professors for decades to come.
Ernest Borgnine: Best-known to Junior Cmapers all over the world for playing Sgt. "Fatso" Judson in "From Here to Eternity," Borgnine has remarkably lived for 90-plus years with only ONE known action figure, for 1979's "The Black Hole!" CHANGE THIS.
U2: I am not averse to getting Steve Martin as Ray Patterson in a different line, but if you're getting guests who played themselves...there's some great bands, we've mentioned a few already, and I'd love to see the Red Hot Chili Pepper, Aerosmith and the Smashing Pumpkins. But I'm not sure you could beat a set with U2 singing "Pride" with Homer being mercilessly beaten by security in the background. "In the naaaammmme of loooooveeee..."
And of course, this guest has already been done as a figure, but is there anything better than Stephen Hawking in his tricked-out robo-chair? No. No, there is not.
You know what I'd love is a super-awesome pack full of the many guest roles by the late great Phil Hartman -- Troy McLure, Lionel Hutz, one-off characters like Lyle Lanley...I'm just consistently amazed by what a great performer Hartman was, and what he brought to every project he touched. Many great recurring "Simpsons" guest-stars are guaranteed figures in different lines like Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob and Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony, but I'd love to see Hartman's remarkable body of work singled out.
It'd also be great to see a tribute to the many faces of Albert Brooks, who's brought us everyone from a crazed EPA official in "The Simpsons Movie" to maniacal greatest boss ever Hank Scorpio to Jacques, the smooth bowler who nearly stole Marge from Homer. National treasure, that man.
Well, those are our picks. Who would you like to see? Let us know!